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The Pilgrimage (Blu-ray Review)

Leaving his Irish monastery for the first time, a young novice (Tom Holland, Spiderman: Homecoming) departs with a devoted group of monks and a mysterious former Crusader (Jon Bernthal, “The Punisher”) as they attempt to transport a holy relic to Rome. Threatened at every turn by savage tribes, traitorous Norman soldiers and those that seek the power they believe the relic holds, the young man finds surprising courage while faced with deadly challenges that will push his body, mind and spirit to the breaking point.

Film 

The Pilgrimage stars a trio of established and not-so-established actors. Tom Holland (Spiderman: Homecoming), Richard Armitage (The Hobbit Trilogy), and Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) star in this tale taking place in the early 1200’s. Tom Holland is a young monk living and worshipping with his fellow monks on the coast of Ireland. Along with his fellow “mute” brother played Bernthal, they lead simple lives of worship and self-reflection. Holland is Brother Diarmuid — The Novice and Bernthal is simply “The Mute.” Diarmuid has never seen the outside world and it is assumed that The Mute has seen plenty of it.

A Cistercian monk arrives at the monastery and enlists the help of the Irish monks to help transport a holy relic that is kept at the ministry back to Rome. Reluctantly, the monastery sends Brother Diarmuid, The Mute, and several other monks to accompany them to Rome. The road will be long and treacherous. Further along the road they encounter savage tribesmen and Norman soldiers.

Watching the opening prologue to the film gives it some serious supernatural gravitas that we won’t know what will happen until the very end — to say that the foreshadowing is present would be an understatement. The primary cast of characters is terrific and I should go on record and say that I did not recognize Richard Armitage until I watched the making-of documentary. He looks totally different and has a French accent in the film. It was a complete transformation.

There are several brutal hand-to-hand combat fights sprinkled about and I think the primary story-point of the holy relic and what it really is gives the movie that epic push — for those that think the relic is a “Macguffin” that can be left to interpretation. Bernthal as The Mute is like a kettle waiting to boil over. Holland’s star has obviously risen within the last year but plays it well as a naive and rather innocent monk that has ZERO life experience, so watching his character develop and adapt to the outside world was interesting. Armitage, now knowing that it was him, will be seen in a different light.

The Pilgrimage does not pretend to be anything other than it is. The film runs a brisk 90-minutes without credits and is a lot of fun. I’m a sucker for these type of films — I do believe that a longer running time could have helped a bit more with depth and the journey taken by some of our characters. That is a minor nitpick on my part, though, because when I see films like this I want something grand like Kingdom of Heaven, etc. What we do get with The Pilgrimage is adequate enough, so no harm, no foul. It is recommended.

Video 

Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Considering The Pilgrimage was filmed in the overcast lands of Ireland Belgium — the image has some scenes that may not show off a demo-worthy presentation. This does not detract from the fact that what it does show looks terrific. This may be due to the digital source and some compositing. Contrast is very seldom boosted and I did not notice any instances of DNR — sharpness levels were also kept intact.

Depth: The vista and landscape cinematography create some great compositions — the depth of field is outstanding.

Black Levels: Black levels do not crush for the most part — they stay deep and inky.

Color Reproduction: The forests, oceans, beaches, mountainsides look rich and vibrant throughout.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looked nice and healthy — a few pasty chaps did line the Irish coast, but it is to be expected.

Noise/Artifacts: The digitally sourced image is noise and artifact free.

 

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Pilgrimage features a hardy DTS 5.1 lossless mix and from the opening prologue that foreshadows what is to come it never quite lets up. I almost gave it a 5-star but scaled back due to the lack of LFE in some of the fights scenes — mostly due to the lack of crushing bass when a broad sword would come down on someone’s head or body — there needed to be an extra bit of “oomph” to those scenes. Outside of those minor quibbles the lossless presentation was fantastic.

Low Frequency Extension: The low frequency (LFE) channel was very particular as to when it would make its appearance. It rumbled and shook during certain scenes and transitions, hardly during the fighting, but plenty during weather “anomalies.” I am assuming that the director and sound designers had reasons why and it makes sense in the overall context of the film.

Surround Sound Presentation: Ambience was carried over fairly well — and the directional sound effects kicked in during the battles — there were plenty of arrows being slung about that whizzed by from back to front and front to back.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels were stellar — and even those with heavy accents could be heard and understood without any problems.

Extras 

A short and rather compact set of extras fill the supplemental section on The Pilgrimage. Everything adds up to about 30 minutes’ worth of material but it’s a nice “meat and potatoes” package. There is a mini-documentary highlighting the actors and filmmakers in addition to a few vignettes focusing on individual segments of the film — make-up, visual effects, music, languages, and locations. A nice photo gallery and poster gallery round out the supplements package. A DVD copy of The Pilgrimage is also included.

  • The Making of Pilgrimage (HD)
  • The Dance of War: The Fight Choreography of Pilgrimage (HD)
  • Building An Army: The Visual & Make-Up Effects of Pilgrimage (HD)
  • Sounds From the Past: The Languages & Music of Pilgrimage (HD)
  • Setting the Scene: The Locations of Pilgrimage (HD)
  • Photo Gallery (HD)
  • Poster Galley (HD)
  • DVD Copy (SD)

Summary 

I knew nothing about The Pilgrimage going in and have to say that I was thoroughly entertained. The film runs a brisk 90-minutes, so as a lover of all things historical another 30-minutes in length could have worked wonders, but it’s no big deal. The three central performances were stellar and the film overall makes for some interesting and exciting viewing. The Blu-ray has dynamite video and audio specs and the supplemental special features wrap up the package nicely. The Pilgrimage is recommended.

 

 

 

 

The Pilgrimage is released on

Blu-ray & DVD October 10, 2017

ORDER NOW!

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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